Bill Shorten has doubled-down on his Australia First rhetoric, with an ad that can only be described as ‘whiter than the cast of a Channel Nine show’. Shorten promises that a Labor government will “build Australian first, buy Australian first and employ Australians first” as he is surrounded by white, blonde-haired men and women.
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out which audience Shorten is attempting to seduce. The Australia First dog-whistle is almost blatantly aimed at Trump sympathists and Hanson loyalists. The Australian and ABC News described the ad as ‘racist’. The Sydney Morning Herald was a case study in why you don’t let editors file copy during industrial action, putting up an article that even BuzzFeed would have rejected – no link provided in solidarity with striking Fairfax workers, Google it if you want to see it.
Even Labor diehards rejected the ad, calling it xenophobic and disgusting. Anthony Albanese labelled the ad “a shocker” saying, “It’s not the sort of ad that I want my party to be promoting.”
This morning, Bill Shorten tweeted an admission that the ad lacked diversity.
Really Bill? A lack of diversity? That’s all that’s wrong here, too many white people? Sure, his ad looks like a printer that has run out of ink, but the continued, broad-based appeal to the hardcore racists in the various Reclaim movements is the real problem. By making Australia First the slogan for Labor in 2017, Bill Shorten is hinting that White Australia is alive and well. On the same day that Emmanuel Macron defeated the resurgent Nazis in France, Bill Shorten capitulated to them on national TV.
That’s the problem with Bill Shorten’s Labor – it stands for nothing. They’re actually trying to make cuts to private schools a sticking point for the Turnbull government. It’s more than tone deaf, it shows a disregard for the intelligence of Australian voters.
Labor has spent years claiming that private schools get too big a slice of education funding, and now they expect people to fight against the fact that private schools will be losing money to public schools? It’s beyond stupidity. Of course this could be a new slogan for the ALP: Bill Shorten, Beyond Stupidity.
It isn’t hard to cast your mind back to 2015, when barely-sentient root vegetable and Immigration Minister, Peter Dutton, announced plans to racially profile pedestrians in the Border Farce affair. Most recall that Shorten was against the plan, coming out strongly against it. Of course, when it was first announced, and before the social media reaction had been gauged, Shorten felt that it was a terrific idea.
Maybe it isn’t all Shorten’s fault. Maybe this is just how Labor works now. Who could forget Kevin Rudd’s endless focus groups? I mean, fuck, his Australia 2020 Summit was the only way he could come up with policies for his first term.
But Bill Shorten is supposed to be leading Labor, not lurching from one ill-conceived proposal to the next. The ALP are supposed to be the alternative to the Coalition, not alongside them in the trenches, negotiating with the Nazis. The Opposition are supposed to be the Government-in-waiting, with ideas on how to lead the country, not waiting for the other side to make mistakes, just so they can say, ‘Hey, at least we aren’t them’.
I have said before that, despite his profile, Shorten has failed to define himself or the role he would play as a potential PM, leading few voters to treat him as a serious threat to Turnbull’s reign. This hasn’t changed.
Bill Shorten is less electable than Mark Latham, even if Latham was still running Labor today. At least with Latham, we know where he stands – against women, people of colour, Muslims, minorities of all persuasions. What does Shorten believe in? His right to be elected Prime Minister, and that’s about it.
In a time when the sitting Prime Minister is irrelevant in his own party room, the Opposition Leader is incompetent beyond all measure. We need at least one better option from either side before the next election, yet no one really comes to mind.
Albanese doesn’t seem either keen or capable of taking on the leadership. Bowen gave up his chance when he was the Immigration Minister responsible for proposing the Malaysia Solution – no one would elect Dutton, just as no one will look to Bowen. Burke and Dreyfus are both inoffensive choices, but would be better suited to challenging after an election loss, as neither have the profile.
Plibersek could be a chance, if she was capable of making any point without sounding disingenuous. It is difficult to forget that she abandoned her principles for party advancement in the 2004 amendment to the Marriage Act, and while no one in politics can be expected to be a saint, we’ve seen what happens when that occurs on a larger scale, in the ascendancy of Malcolm Turnbull. Plibersek is probably Labor’s best chance at defeating Shorten and Turnbull, if she can prove herself to be up to the task.
As it stands, Labor isn’t going anywhere any time soon. The divisive Rudd/Gillard/Rudd years left the party with a dearth of talent and an inability to govern. While Labor can outstrip the Coalition in two-party polling, Shorten is barely scraping by, remaining wildly unpopular. After losing the popular vote for Labor leadership, Shorten should have been seen as an interim leader, keeping the seat warm until a true contender came to the fore.